Every fall, the hoshigaki magic begins. Without fail, many Bay Area restaurants partake in the centuries-old practice of preparing hoshigaki, peeling and stringing pearl-like orbs of Hachiya persimmons, then hanging them from rafters for weeks to create cheerful orange fruit curtains. The final result ? A prized dried fruit with a beautiful white sugar bloom on the exterior. It’s a patience-testing endeavor, but the resulting fun makes the work and the wait worth it.
For Eater readers who’ve always wanted to try their hand at making hoshigaki, there’s still time. This year’s season has seen some delays, so there is still some hanging fruit. We asked hoshigaki-making professional SiewChinn Chin of Oakland’s Ramen Shop to show us the process. Chin runs Ramen Shop’s fermentation program and has been making hoshigaki there for years. Before joining the Ramen Shop team, she worked as a pastry chef at Chez Panisse in Berkeley and was a finalist for the Basque Culinary World Prize in 2019.
What materials do I need to make hoshigaki?
- Hachiya persimmons are the largest, teardrop-shaped persimmons, and you’re looking for firm Hachiyas without any green tint to the skin—a “beautiful bright orange color,” describes Chin. Ideally, persimmons should have a piece of branch attached. Fuyu persimmons that look like miniature pumpkins won’t work.
- A peeler to remove the skins.
- A paring or bird’s beak knife to clean the calyx, the green leafy part to which the persimmon is attached.
- Butcher’s twine or thick twine to hang.
- Baking sheets or containers to hold the fruit during preparation.
In the meantime, these items are optional:
- A drying rack is handy if you don’t have a place to hang persimmons in your home.
- A fan is useful for creating air circulation, a necessary part of the process.
- Boiling water to care for persimmons.
How to start the process of making hoshigaki?
Gather your materials in one place. Use a paring knife or scissors to cut off the calyx, that leafy green part at the top of the persimmon. You want to cut back enough so that there is no leaf overhanging the orange part of the fruit.
Next, remove the skin using a peeler, starting at the shoulder and using a circular motion around the calyx. Then, starting at the shoulder again, peel the fruit in a downward motion from the shoulder to the tip until completely peeled, using long strokes if possible. Be careful not to crush the fruit, as this may damage the persimmon and cause drying problems later. Store the persimmon, calyx side down, on a baking sheet while you repeat the peeling process.
In a home kitchen, Chin recommends dipping the peeled persimmon in boiling water for a few seconds “to cure it of bacteria.” Bacteria are less of a concern in a restaurant kitchen, which is often sanitized, but at home, “hostile bacteria” can pose a greater threat, Chin says. Once the persimmon is removed from the water, dry it as thoroughly as possible before hanging it.
How to tie persimmons?
Pre-measure your butcher’s twine to the length needed to hang the fruit. Chin hangs his in pairs, making it easier to balance, but they can also be hung individually. She measures 24 inch lengths of twine to tie a persimmon on each end.
Tie a clove knot around the branch and push it all the way to the base, before tightening. Choose another peeled persimmon of similar size and tie it to the other end of the string. The string will then have a persimmon tied at each end, perfect for balancing when hanging. Cut any extra string from the knot so that it does not touch the peeled persimmon while it is hanging.
What happens if there is no branch to attach the rope to?
If there is no branch, you have options. Chin doesn’t recommend hanging persimmons without a branch, but “if you’re desperate,” she suggests using a bamboo skewer. Pierce the persimmon with a skewer, vertically at its shoulder just below the chalice, then tie the string to the stick. The persimmon will ooze for a few days at the puncture sites before forming a sugar crust.
Where should I hang the persimmons?
Chin hangs Ramen Shop persimmons from kitchen pipes, wrapping them twice to create space between the persimmons and hanging them at different heights to promote air circulation around each fruit.
At home, you want a place with plenty of air circulation and some sunlight, such as an east-facing window. A clothing rack is an ideal solution if you’re short on both, and Chin recommends tying the fruit to the rack, putting it out in the sun during the day, and bringing it in at night—just be careful not to let the persimmons get too dry. infiltrate. wet. If that’s not an option, an indoor fan aimed at the fruit will help; run the fan during the day and turn it off at night.
Now comes the patience-testing part: After about three days, the exterior of the fruit should harden and take on a leathery texture. Once this happens, you will begin to “massage” the fruit daily – try to break up the inner tissue of the persimmon without piercing the outer skin. Press your thumbs on the persimmons and run them through each fruit, giving them a teardrop shape. Ideally this is done daily, but can be extended to every other day or so. A bloom of white sugar will start to form on the outside – that’s how you’ll know you’re on the right track.
How will I know when the hoshigaki are finished?
Depending on air circulation, persimmons may be ready to eat in three weeks or may take up to six weeks or more. What you’re looking for is when the persimmon is dried, but still somewhat soft and spongy. They should not be hard, at this stage the fruit is too dried. Hoshigaki are usually cut into rounds and served with tea. Pieces can be stored in an airtight container for up to six months.
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